Tuesday, 7 June 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Materials focus

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be Materials. In this blog Anne Chloe Devic (pictured below right), Cefic Innovation Manager responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines the field, its many areas of innovation for sustainable chemistry and how you can participate in the discussion at #suschem16.

Materials is one of the five SusChem priority areas for innovation. There are at least two European Commission policy areas that relate closely to materials. One is ‘Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy’ and the second is the Energy Union with its Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan. SusChem has defined its priority areas for research and innovation in materials as materials for energy efficiency, materials for low carbon electricity production, and materials for energy storage.

However, these three application areas remain very wide and SusChem wants to narrow down the priorities in order to maximise impact. Therefore SusChem is looking to engage its stakeholders to support and contribute to refining and defining the top priorities for sustainable chemistry in the materials domain.

In the next few month a SusChem working group, currently being formed, will discuss and propose the priorities that SusChem will put forward for inclusion in future calls of Horizon 2020 (and beyond) and other European and National collaborative research and innovation programmes.

Materials and Energy
The chemical industry is a key solution provider for many value chains and other industry sectors that are aligned with the priorities outlined in the fifth pillar (research and innovation) of the Energy Union.

Sustainable chemistry provides technologies and advanced materials for:

  • Enabling the EU to be a world leader in renewable energy. This includes providing advanced materials 
    • for sustainable production of renewable electricity, for example new composites for wind turbine blades and materials for photovoltaic technologies that include the recycling of these materials, 
    • for energy storage, for example: electrical energy storage - materials for advanced batteries; chemical energy storage - advanced materials and process technologies such as H2 and CO2 based energy carriers via power-to-gas and power-to-liquid technologies; and thermal energy storage - phase change materials or reversible thermochemical reactions.
  • Efficient energy conservation solutions to make the future and existing building stock energy neutral. This includes: advanced materials for thermal insulation, efficient lighting, and phase change materials amongst others.
  • More sustainable transport systems through the use of lightweight materials as a solution to enable lower carbon transport. This includes innovation in ‘light-weighting’ technologies in terms of both materials and process technologies that can play a vital role to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in transport. Composite materials, such as fibre reinforced plastics (FRP that can be carbon or glass reinforced) have a significant potential for weight reduction in vehicles. They can offer light weight benefits in comparison to other structural metallic materials, while maintaining high mechanical properties. In addition hybrid materials, combining composites and metals, with appropriate joining technologies, can reduce vehicle weight. Materials development for more fuel efficient tyres and advanced battery technologies are also important.

Materials and the Circular Economy 
The development of innovative advanced materials by the chemical sector is essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle of products and services, and to develop new production and recycling process paths.

The development of materials enabling ‘eco-design’ of products is required to address very demanding requirements in terms of performance in downstream applications, including better recyclability. New technological development of materials is often carried out by the chemical industry in collaboration with its value chain partners to provide improved / desired material characteristics and to enable more recyclable end-use products.

For this design and development process to be effective, sustainability assessment over the whole life cycle of the product needs to be considered. The evaluation of environmental impact should consider all environmental aspects including energy and water.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on materials for energy, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is still open, but will be closing soon. This dedicated registration website includes all the information you will need to attend the event.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

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